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CLINTON - Facing new testing standards, the Board of Education is requesting an increase of $958,892 or 3.14 percent over last year's budget. According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jack Cross, the largest increase in the proposal is in the area of personnel based on three factors: projected enrollment, current active staff, and projected staffing needs.
"We have identified three staff positions we believe are critical for inclusion in our system to be properly aligned with the Common Core State Standards," explained Cross.
Two instructional coaches have been added to the requested budget to address identified needs in math instruction at the elementary level and interdisciplinary literacy instruction at the high school.
"Two years ago we added a math coach to the K-5 program. We are seeing extreme benefits from that position, so now we are adding a second math coach," Cross said. "We are also adding a literacy coach interventionist at the high school because this is the only place we don't have a coach and we are seeing that our reading and writing scores are not as good as we would like to them to be. The literacy coach will be used to model and help teachers with literacy strategies and enhance our reading programs and help to supervise those students who are in need of intervention in the area of reading."
An additional guidance position has been added to the budget proposal to provide support for high school students preparing for college.
"There is an increase in demand for college and career readiness and this position will help address those needs in transitioning to college and beyond high school for our students," explained Cross.
Additional money has also been requested for stipends for teacher team leaders at the middle school. These positions are designed to support the coordination of instructional programming across teams and grade levels.
These increases combined make up a total of $203,000 of the entire proposed budget. In addition, this year's budget also reflects the shift of the former part-time Board of Education business manager position to full-time-an increase of $50,000-and the move of the director of technology position (formerly shared with the town) to a full-time position for the Board of Education, adding another $20,000 into this year's proposed budget.
Cross emphasized that there has also been savings realized in the budget.
"We have saved money in the areas of heating and electricity. The current contract reduced the per kilowatt-hour charge by five cents, which resulted in a $22,000 savings in the first year, and the gas resulted in a $30,000 savings in the first year of the current three year contract. Based on analysis of the last five years, with the new pricing, the 2014-'15 budget reflects a savings of $90,000 in this area."
He added, "In the area of transportation the Board of Education is in the first year of the five-year contract, which is projected to yield a savings of more than $280,000 over the life of the contract. This budget also projects savings in the area of print communication and there is a zero increase in medical benefits.
"Overall we are proud of the budget and we feel that it meets the needs of the school system while also remaining fiscally responsible for all the taxpayers in town," said Cross.
The next step is to present the budget jointly to the Board of Selectman and the Board of Finance for approval. The proposed budget will then be sent to a public hearing, which will be scheduled sometime in April. From there it will move onto the annual budget meeting on Wednesday, May, 7 and then to the budget referendum on Wednesday, May 14.